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Lesson on Mass Incarceration Using the Books Monster and The 57 Bus

Grade Level Grades 6-8
Resource Type Handout, Lesson Plan


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Overview: In this lesson, students employ inquiry based learning using a KWL chart, conduct research, and evaluate the purpose and problems associated with mass incarceration.

This lesson is part of a novel study of the book Monster by Walter Dean Myers, but would be appropriate for other novels, such as The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater, or for a social studies unit on Reconstruction, the Jim Crow Era, Civil Rights, etc.

Essential Questions:

  • What is the purpose of incarceration? To what extent should it be used as a deterrent, as retribution, as protection of the community, or for rehabilitation?
  • Does the United States incarcerate too many of its citizens? What are alternatives to incarceration?


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